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Feuerbach, Ludwig Andreas (1804–72)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DC027-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved September 29, 2023, from

Article Summary

Ludwig Feuerbach, one of the critical Young Hegelian intellectuals of the nineteenth century, has become famous for his radical critique of religious belief. In Das Wesen des Christentums (Essence of Christianity) (1841) he develops the idea that God does not exist in reality but as a human projection only, and that the Christian principles of love and solidarity should be applied directly to fellow humans rather than being regarded as an indirect reflection of God’s love. In religion, the believer ‘projects his being into objectivity, and then again makes himself an object of an object, another being than himself’. Religious orientation is an illusion and is unhealthy, as it deprives and alienates the believer from true autonomy, virtue and community, ‘for even love, in itself the deepest, truest emotion, becomes by means of religiousness merely ostensible, illusory, since religious love gives itself to man only for God’s sake, so that it is given only in appearance to man, but in reality to God’ (Feuerbach 1841: 44, 48). In Grundsätze der Philosophie der Zukunft (Principles of the Philosophy of the Future) (1843) he extends his criticism to all forms of metaphysics and religion: ‘True Dialectics is not the Monologue of the sole Thinker, rather the Dialogue between I and Thou’, he writes in paragraph 62 (1846–66 II: 345), criticizing in particular his former teacher Hegel. The philosophy of the future has to be both sensual and communal, equally based on theory and practice and among individuals. In an anonymous encyclopedia article (1847) he defines his position: ‘the principle from which Feuerbach derives everything and towards which he targets everything is “the human being on the ground and foundation of nature”’, a principle which ‘bases truth on sensuous experience and thus replaces previous particular and abstract philosophical and religious principles’ (1964– III: 331). Feuerbach’s sensualism and communalism had great influence on the young Karl Marx’s development of an anthropological humanism, and on his contemporaries in providing a cultural and moral system of reference for humanism outside of religious orientation and rationalistic psychology. In the twentieth century, Feuerbach influenced existential theology (Martin Buber, Karl Barth) as well as existentialist and phenomenological thought.

Citing this article:
Sass, Hans-Martin. Feuerbach, Ludwig Andreas (1804–72), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DC027-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2023 Routledge.

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